FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- Nashoba wrapped up a perfect 13-0 season Saturday and, in the process, ran its overall winning streak to a state-best 26 games with a 20-6 win over Shepherd Hill in the Division 2 Central Mass. Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
Andrew Cross ran for one touchdown and clocked 57 yards on 10 carries. Brady Schartner, the Cheiftans’ lead receiver, intercepted a Rams’ pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to make it a two-touchdown game late in the fourth quarter.
“We did it together,” said Cross of his team’s victory. “There’s no one person that did it, no one side of the ball, it was the whole team and that’s what made it so special is that the whole team contributed.”
With 8:21 left in the game, Nashoba began a four-minute 54-yard drive that, had it been executed fully, would have put the game out of reach for Shepherd’s Hill. On third and nine though, Kyle Amico caught an errant pass at the back of the end zone, giving Shepherd Hill an opportunity to take the lead with a score and a two point conversion.
“Jack [Sarnoski] was trying to throw it away because he had a lot of pressure from the left side,” Nashoba head coach Ken Tucker said.
Amico’s touchback brought the ball to the Rams’ 20, but Drew Jean-Guillaume was hit for a five-yard loss on the first play. On the second play, the Chieftans front men smothered Shepherd’s Hill and forced an interception by Schartner who took it 22 yards to for the last score of the day.
Although Schartner scored on the interception, he deflected praise from his singular deed and stated that the effort was holistic.
“All the credit goes to the defense putting pressure on the quarterback,” added Schartner. “All I had to do was step up and it hit me in the chest. “
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
The first score and the last score on the day were reminiscent of two scores earlier in the season. The first, a Cross 6-yard burst, is a team favorite.
"The first touchdown we scored in the year versus Longmeadow was a '45 Blast,'" said senior offensive guard Michael d’Entremont.
During the team’s first scrimmage, they ran they bread and butter and scored on it. Today, when they needed a score, they recalled their staple and ate well.
“That’s a play me and Mike have been running all year, 45 blast,” Cross said. “Every single time we need five yards we do it and we did it today. We scored on it.”
The interception returned for a touchdown was also a rehash.
“This guy here [Shartner], this is his fifth interception of the year, second pick-six,” Tucker said. “That’s a clutch play by him.”
DOUBLE DOWN ON DEFENSE
As the game wore on, the Nashoba defense tightened up, stemming the last two drives by Shepherd Hill following the Rams’ 72-yard touchdown pass touchdown from Chris Dutting to Derek Hinckley.
“We’re a defense that really likes to pressure the other team,” Tucker said. “It’s a little tougher against these double-wing teams. We like to blitz people from a lot of different places and the secondary is aggressive. We play a lot of man coverages, a lot of mixed coverages. “
Late in the game Zack Hume took a run up the left side of the field. Although he had limited carries since injuring his ankle earlier in the season, this one looked especially odd.
“That was the biggest hole I’ve ever seen running the ball,” said Hume, who carried players on his back during the run. “It was great blocking. I just ran straight, it was a huge hole.”
Nashoba (13-0) 0 7 6 7 -- 20
Shepherd Hill (10-3) 0 0 0 7 -- 20
N -- Andrew Cross 6 run (Drew Korn kick)
S -- Chris Dutting 72 pass from Drew Ravenelle (rush failed)
N -- Elijah WIlliams 6 run (kick blocked)
N --- Brady Schartner 22-yard interception return (Drew Korn kick)